Sonoma woman avoids scammer
A quick-witted Sonoma resident had red flags go up during a recent phone call she received, and that kept her from becoming the victim of a scam.
The 72-year-old woman, we’ll call Joyce because she didn’t want her name used, received a call at about 7 a.m. one recent day. The man on the other end of the line, who had what she described as an Indian accent, said he was calling from Washington, D.C., and he wanted to send her a new Medicare card. But, he said, he needed some information first. He somehow knew which bank she used and read off the routing number, but then he asked for her account number.
That was a red flag.
“After I refused to give him my account number, he got nasty,” Joyce said. “He threatened that he’d be stopping my Social Security check.”
“When he questioned whether or not I was a citizen, I was ready to come through the line after him,” she said. “I was pissed.”
At that point, Joyce ended the call.
But because she had caller ID, she was able to give the Sheriff’s Office the number when she reported the incident. She found out that the number was actually coming out of Canada and routed through a Texas area code and that there were 157 complaints about the number.
Joyce said she talked to two other women she knew, both of whom received similar calls and both early in the morning.
“They must call hoping to catch you half asleep,” she said.
Sgt. Shawn Murphy, with the Sheriff’s Valley substation, warns about giving information to someone who calls you.
“No one should give out any information based on a person calling you,” Murphy said. “You should always ask for a call back number.”
Murphy said one of the latest scams he’s heard about is someone getting a call from a person representing themselves as a representative of a credit card company.
“They’ll tell you that there’s been some fraudulent activity on your card and that they’ll cancel this one and send you a new card. They’ll ask for confirmation and read you the number on the front of your card. After you confirm that, they’ll ask for the three-digit security code on the back,” he said. “That’s what they’re looking for.”
Murphy said the caller makes you believe they’re helping you and that you should receive another call from the company within two or three days. But in the two or three days, you could find that someone is running up large purchases with your information.
“You should never provide any financial information over the phone,” he said. “And if you have any doubts, ask for a call-back number. All credit card companies have an 800-number.”
Murphy said anyone, even if they aren’t scammed, should call law enforcement and report similar incidents.
“And you should call all three credit reporting companies to put a credit alert on your account,” he said. “This way, you’ll be notified if someone tries to open an account in your name.”
Back in July, the District Attorney’s office warned people about an email scam reportedly from the postal service that advised people to print out a label and bring it to the post office to collect their package. But the attachment contains malware which would then infect the computer.
Last January, a Sonoma resident lost $60,000 in a phony lottery scam and from time to time, area residents receive a bogus email from a friend or acquaintance saying they are in a foreign country, have been robbed of everything including their credit cards and passports and need help in leaving the country.